US (NY): People with cannabis convictions to get retail license first

New York regulators are set to approve a rulemaking it so people with prior cannabis convictions, or whose family members have been harmed by criminalization, will get the first round of adult-use cannabis retailer licenses—ahead of existing medical cannabis businesses.

The proposal to create the conditional licenses will be taken up by the New York State Cannabis Control Board (CCB) on Thursday. It’s a move that would set the state apart from others that have enacted legalization but faced criticism over a lack of promised equity results.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) is expected to announce the plan on Thursday, as first reported by The New York Times. Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) Executive Director Chris Alexander told the newspaper that he expects upwards of 200 “justice involved” applicants to receive the priority licenses under the proposal, with retailers potentially coming online by the year’s end.

To qualify for the conditional license, an applicant would need to have been convicted of a cannabis-related offense prior to March 31, 2021, when the state’s adult-use legalization law was enacted. Those who have a “parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, or dependent” who faced such convictions would also be eligible, as would those who were themselves dependent on someone with a conviction.

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